Evolution of theory of CSR1
The connection between corporations and society has been to industrialists’ mind since the age of Henry Ford, if not before but the first effort to theorize this relationship has been made by Howard Bowen’s Social Responsibilities of the Businessman (1953) who tried to give systematic and rationalized arguments in favor of CSR by stating that the big corporations should consider using their power and influence with social consequences and responsibilities in mind. The main argument to this point came by Milton Friedman (1962) who argued that the “only responsibility of a corporation is to its shareholders”. Academics were divided between the two arguments for a decade without advancing a lot the debate.
It was not until 1970 when Wallich and McGowan made a first attempt to demonstrate a connection between CSR and shareholder interests. Their main argument was that the corporation’s long-term interest is to strengthen the environment they belong to. If the society the companies belong were to deteriorate, businesses would lose their “critical support structure” and customer base. This model renewed the interest in CSR and sparked more research on the subject (Fitch 1976, Elkins1977, Keim 1978)
Soon, people called for a more practical approach to CSR and Carroll’s article called “A three-dimensional conceptual model of corporate performance” (1979) that became one of the most cited articles in the field. Carroll didn’t see the social goals of the company as a trade-off to the economic ones. Rather, he introduced a model where economic, ethical, legal and discretionary goals are integrated. In the same path followed the works of Watrick and Cochran.
The literature in the 90s tried to answer why some companies perform better than others and examined if CSR could be identified as one competitive advantage. Scholars tried to apply the stakeholder theory to CSR (* stakeholders,... [continues]
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